Grand County welcomes cyclists on 4th day of Ride the Rockies | VailDaily.com

Grand County welcomes cyclists on 4th day of Ride the Rockies

Lance Maggart
lmaggart@skyhinews.com

Thousands of bicyclists made the grueling 93.8-mile trek today from Steamboat Springs to Grand Lake as part of the landmark Ride the Rockies cycling tour.

Wednesday, June 13, marked day four of the annual high country biking event as approximately 1,900 riders pedaled their way across Grand County. Riders started their day in Steamboat Springs and fought a significant incline on their way up and over Rabbit Ears Pass before a long descent to the town of Kremmling in western Grand County. From Kremmling, riders headed east along U.S. Highway 40, following the path of the Colorado River, to the junction of U.S. Highways 40 and 34, just east of Granby.

Cyclists, traveling in singles and small groups, began rolling through the intersection around 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Colorado State Patrol helped direct traffic at key intersections along the route throughout the day.

State Patrol Captain Doug Conrad manned the busy U.S. Highway 40 and 34 intersection most of Wednesday, which required a left-hand turn by cyclists.

'Not as bad as I thought it would be'

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The number of riders was fairly sparse throughout most of the morning, though groups numbering up to half-a-dozen could be seen riding along the Highway 34 shoulder toward the Three Lakes region and the host community of Grand Lake.

An aid station, located in a parking area along the highway, just west of Lochleven Cove on Lake Granby, was packed with riders pulling in for a brief pit stop before making the final push to Grand Lake.

Greg Jordon, of Littleton, had just pulled into the aid station on Lake Granby when he paused for a brief reprieve from the mileage.

"It has been great," Jordan said between breaths.

This year marks Jordan's ninth time participating in Ride The Rockies and, while his trip from Steamboat Springs to Grand Lake was "tiring" yet "fun," he said the climb up Rabbit Ears Pass, with a top elevation of 9,426 feet, was "not as bad as I had thought it might be."

Jordan noted traffic on the highway had been heavy, requiring plenty of caution, but overall said the traffic was not that bad.

Riders will emerge from their tents and lodging accommodations Thursday morning for the shortest leg of the week-long tour, a 31.3 mile ride to Winter Park that will take riders up to the Granby mesa via County Road 61. After a brief pit stop at Polhamus Park in Granby, riders will continue south through Tabernash and Fraser to the host community of Winter Park.

Headquarters for the stopover in Winter Park will technically be in Fraser, at the Grand Park Community Recreation Center. The Fraser River Valley Lions Club will provide lunch on Thursday and breakfast on Friday. Entertainment Friday night will be at Hideaway Park and includes live performances by Intuit Band and the Gasoline Lollipops.

Fraser & Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Catherine Ross said she is trilled to have Ride the Rockies back in Winter Park after a somewhat troubled year in 2014, the last time the tour went through Winter Park, when snow and inclement weather prevented many riders from making a trip up and over Berthoud Pass.

"We are excited and appreciate the community support," Ross said. "We are ready to show them why we are a top adventure town. We are hoping for a less dramatic year (than in 2014)."